it was my grand prize, the holy grail of gifts offered to me upon the disheveled sheets of a hotel bed in san bernardino, california.
silver, shiny, surprising.
we are the couple with a patented armband. it slips over our sleeves, radiating satellite signals of emotion; throbbing 'round the world to the beat of our open hearts.
yeah, i couldn't hide it.
"you bought me a kettle?", i drooped, dismayed.
"but, you like tea.", confucius say.
here's the irony. i am your least romantic friend. i do not think your child's crayon scribbles are adorable, weddings with bubbles/doves/rice or any variation thereof is cheesy, and february the 14th, that flimsy, fabricated franchise, is for suckers.
ah, but it's the bud that gets me every time.
heady blossoms of succulent, sensual sweetness; my nostrils toking on memories, my heart vaulting through time.
for this certified city child; downtown dweller, with a bedroom view of the world's tallest free-standing structure as it elevatored up into the sky, nature was but a panoramic picture of [high] park, not cognitive crunchings underfoot. only in a small and slow land across the ocean, did natural infatuation flower.
in bedstefar's rose garden i crushed to most traditional bloom, the rose, and have been blushing ever since. idyllic summers, bliss. windy beaches, black licorice and cycling trails of escape. child-wide innocence, pre-aids, pre-internet. squashed siblings united on the home front, n. and i'd bullet down the hallway; our apartment's gaza strip, dodging parental anarchy that never ceased fire. danish summers were a respite from our father's battle, the war he never surrendered. this 70's show was a true merchant/ivory film come to life, minus the corsets i was never able to fill anyway.
over the years, my floral favorite split-screened with the lilac. fruity, flirty flower. one whiff of its syrupy scent and i am drifting, twitching back into pubescent angst; melting overwintered, toronto days when gray slush still hulked curbside, but throaty breaths hinted at winter's retreat; spring's burgeoning blitz. crawling out of your skin; snowsuit, onto melting glaciers of yearn.
he lies tractioned head to toe, smarting submissive. he describes his pain level to the physiotherapist as a 6 out of 10. her heart twitches. she, sense memoried. so well versed in the rhythm of the pain scale, a "9" would roll off her tongue as trippingly as iambic pentameter to the elizabethan actor, landing a delicious, drugged reward for her high score.
now chauffeur to her loaded lad, her heart twitches again at the bulge in his pants' pocket.
[rattle, rattle, rattle....]
with an echoing ruckus smothering marley's entrance, as dickens' ghost clanged up from hell's holding cell, every drag of his leg rattles a delicious, distracting din. every hobble prattles his pills pavlovian, inflaming her cold coals of sobriety. while marley's torment spread equator fat, her purgatory's packaged in a pill, just a slight of hand away.
["it would be so easy..."]
but, then. paradise lost.
now, dead-weight dragging new baggage he wishes the airline lost, his pockets rattle 'n roll with oxycodone; norco-singing, endlessly repeating the seductive moans and groans of last summer's sin-soaked chart topper.
["so, call me, maybe..."]
so, if caring for the hooked-up, laid-up man taking 6 painful minutes to sit up in bed is poetic justice, then sign me up for the slam.
i've got a beret, pages of rehabus vomitus, and an audience of one held captive by bed.
[isn't it romantic?]
i dreamed a dream. years of hints, as subtle as celebratory plate crashing at a greek wedding. loud, longing admiration for every bundle prettying up the house. soft, squirrely sighs as i'd arrange and rearrange. and a pencil-pointed declaration of how. much. i. love. flowers. but, eventually, like an exhaustive evening of uninspired erotic exertions, i ceased huffing and puffing and chose to walk over the finish line.
and gave up.
so you could have blown me over with a baby's breath, when suddenly presented with a fistful of sweetheart roses; deep pink, tear-stained mauve. fresh from bedstefar's fabled garden, the rosy bunch buzzed with silence, leaving me weak at the bees' knees.
and my first thought was,
"but, i stole pills from you.".
you are the thorn in his side that can never be expelled; wily weed.
romance is not a well-tended garden; sterilized manicure. not trudging a pedestrian landscape of brick paths, automatic sprinkles and feng shui fountains.
romance is the steadfast slog of a man, through the surging swells of sickness. surviving mattress-turning nights, black-eyed peeves and a timer set every two hours to chart your intoxicated depth of breath.
romance is the cushion of his arms as you pillow the rare wetness upon his classic-cut cheeks. damp-pressed, your gray, failing form is cradled like the child you have become. and he holds your head still against narcotic waves lolling it feral; free.
romance is dodging words like darts; sharp, scarring. fleet of foot he'd sidestep your wild swings, as you belligerently battled his punching bag to a pulp with your poisoned spit.
it's a rope of words that can never be untangled, just noosed tight until there's silence.
our romance is now revenge against a monster; spearing passionate surrender.
["a sort of homecoming."]
the U2 classic bemoans the exhaustive irish civil war; religious wronged.
but, in our home, there is a truce. more than a truce.
[cease eternal tarry, starless nights.]
it is dawn.
"and your heart beats so slow
through the rain and fallen snow,
across the fields of mourning
light's in the distance.
oh, don't sorrow, no don't weep
for tonight, at last,
i am coming home
i am coming home."
the kettle's on the stove.
she's flowering, prettied with pink.
and romance is in the air.